Spartan Dogs - Plummer Terrier 

Category: Dogs, Working Dogs, Terriers, Bull and Terriers, England, Europe, Hunting Dog, Ratter, Family Dog

Plummer Terrier / Plummer
Names Plummer Terrier, Plummer
Origins England
Tasks Hunting Dog, Ratter, Family Dog
Height 29-35.5 cm
Weight 5.5-7.5 kg
Lifespan 13-15 years
Group Terriers, Bull and Terriers

The Plummer Terrier is a small but leggy, smooth coated terrier with a strong working instinct that was developed in England / Great Brittain.

The Plummer Terrier History

The Plummer Terrier is created by Dr. David Brian Plummer.

Dr. Plummer was always a working dog man, his breed affinities were indicative of this; small terriers (Plummer), lurchers and his lastly and never quite finished Aluant's (which are still in existence today and some folks are working with). Aptly named after their creator - the Plummer terrier was realised in the 1960 s and has been bred true to type for over 15 years.

Plummer terriers were created through the mixture of Jack Russell Terrier, Fell Terrier, Bull Terrier (defined as a pit dog) and Beagle blood.

The Plummer Terrier is mostly made out of Jack Russell Terrier, with a strong dash of Beagle (added for nose, voice and coat color), and Bull Terrier (added for toughness and head size). A red Fell Terrier was mixed in to improve the overall appearance.

After a long period of out-breeding and culling, obvious genetic problems were worked out of the breed (they are as healthy as any today), but a new problem worked its way in -- today's dogs are sometimes too big for truly tight underground work. Perhaps that is not a problem if you are developing a dog just for ratting, which was Brian Plummer's passion. That said, early dogs were smaller than today's dogs -- a common problem in the world of working terriers.

Plummer Terriers were primarily created to work rats and rabbits.

It is a pity that Dr. Plummer, who died in 2003, did not live long enough to witness the culmination of his dream.

Dr. Plummer is for those hunters aware of him, known for his work in producing both a strain of working Lurchers and specifically for the Plummer Terrier, which was developed as a vermin control dog to address traits he found lacking in his existing terrier pack, namely the degree of nose/scenting ability.

Dr. Plummer's passion was hunting rats with what was then his motley pack of Russell type terriers. On settling in the Midlands, living in a run down cottage in the countryside surrounding Lichfield, he continued to relentlessly hunt rats in his spare time.

Dr. Plummer strove to produce a unique strain of terrier using bloodlines with Jack Russell Terriers from seal cottage lines as his foundation. These terriers were worked hard and as the breed developed so too did Brian Plummers reputation as a breeder of hardy terriers that bred true to type.

He addressed this through the use of these Jack Russell Terrier strain added to this a single infusion of American Beagle, which whilst good hunters and scenters, had pendulous ears, slightly too much size and the Beagle influence undermined the terrier's toughness. For sake of succinctness, Bull Terrier blood was added to redress the toughness issue and these Terrier-Beagle-BT dogs were bred back into Jack Russell's and Fell Terrier's to regain correct size to be easily spannable and emphasise the true terrier nature and abilities.

The dogs of this time consisted of Vampire, who died in 1980 aged 9, this Plummer terrier was a veteran of the weekly rat hunts at the local battery hen farm. His brother Warlock, sister Beltane (who Brian regarded as the "matron" of his terrier team and indeed the prototype of the breed) and Omega, bred by her sire Vampire to his own daughter Janey. Brian dedicated a whole book to the hunting abilities of Omega. All of these terriers showed the characteristic looks of what we now regard as Plummer terriers.

The Beagle used in the 60 s was out of the Russet show-bred strain and came from some USA imports owned by Philip Ainstay, a fellow teacher friend of Dr. Plummer, brought to the UK to tidy up British exhibits. This dog was very small for that breed, had a very good nose and went to ground like a terrier. We of By Spartan Law, are however convinced that Dr. Plummer made a big mistake here he had rather used a linebred generation on generation working beagle, in stead of teacher sentiment and stories. Further outcrosses were introduced.

As the breed became registered, it began to be bred to lines and the emphasis became increasingly one of purity and standards. Plummer started to see numerous examples within the breed of faults and hereditry defects, especially pertaining to bone structure and head size (which always become focal points of show breeders, and accordingly so does size).

As the breed originator, Plummer deemed it necessary to initiate an out-cross program based upon three hand-picked dogs that were product of pure linebred Plummer Terrier's to a Bull Terrier to be taken back into the purebred genepool, specifically to Champion examples of the breed (as it should be in either out or line-crosses when such actions are required).

The addition of Fell Terrier blood, Jaeger from Nigel Hinchcliffe's lines and Flint from Brian Nuttal's lines, both noted working lines, and most likely desceding from Cyril Brea's stock, infused refinement of shape and to a certain extent contributed to fixing type, Pagan, a black and tan terrier is acknowledged as one of the early pillars of the breed. Further additions included a Jack Russell Terrier known as Eric Forsyth's Pip, Alan Thomas's Hamish and pip from the Chiddingfold and Leconfield foxhound kennels. Unknown Bull Terrier blood was added to improve the head and strength of jaw and to improve general toughness/ durability in the field. Dr. Plummer later concluded that this was his biggest mistake as fighters were rife amongst his stock. The addition did little to improve heads etc and unfortunately brought about undesirable traits such as patella luxation and rose ears. This could be an indication that probably no Bull Terrier blood but Bull & Terrier (American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) or Staffordshire Bull Terrier (SBT)) blood was infused.

However, the Plummer Terrier Association which had arisen as a byproduct of the breed's popularity failed to realise the importance of this outcross programme; choosing to disregard Brian Plummer's advise in order to improve and advance with the breed, disassociating themselves from him in 1998, when they expelled Brian Plummer from the PTA. This left Brian no alternative but to implement and create The Working Plummer Terrier Register, if the breed were to survive and flourish in the vein of its originator. The register was set-up in the year 2000, using a Plummer Terrier database as background information for the outcrosses and all other Plummer terriers of traceable ancestry to be registered.

It must be noted that performance as an earth dog was and is an expected prerequisite of most if not all terrier breeds and Plummers are no exception to this rule. At this point it has to be said that two distinct types began to develop, the smaller more snipey nosed form and the more bully stronger headed type. At this point Brian opted for the latter, but it is now acknowledged that in the long term it did the breed no favours. Further out crossing to bull blood lines was stopped and due to several years of painstaking discipline regarding choice preferable blood lines a distinct and recognisable type was finally secured.

By the early 90 s most of the packs important gene pool was found and regrouped, albeit on a smaller scale. Work continued and other lines were sort widening the gene pool enough to be able to limit inbreeding.

Of course most breeds have their faults and the Plummer is no exception. Problems encountered by the Plummer Terrier Association in the early 90 s such as Patella Luxation and Perthes Syndrome are currently running below 2% in the population. Other problems such as undershot jaws are now quite rare but are always a possible fault to look for when breeding too closely.

In a relatively short period of time the breed has come a very long way.

The future of the breed, as a generally game working dog, the Plummer Terrier is not a Kennel Club breed, and most Plummer Terrier owners who work their dogs would prefer that this dog was kept separated from the Kennel Club.

While the Plummer Terrier generally breeds true in appearance, the standard is a working terrier standard, and the most common serious fault in this breed is cleft pallets

If salvation is to be had (at least for underground work), it is in the hands of genuine diggers and dedicated ratters that are trying to size down the breed and keep it working on a regular basis. However, care has to be taken in order to ensure the welfare of the breed is the main priority when breeding.

Though it is a bit early to say for certain, the Plummer Terrier appears to be a breed that has caught on in popularity among a segment of the working terrier set, and with increased restrictions on fox hunting in the UK, its popularity as a ratting dog is likely to increase.

This fairly modern story is a good example of where breed popularity, recognition, showing and standards can get to.

Plummer Terrier Appearance

Body: square in appearance when viewed from side this means the distance of shoulders to ground. Depth through the heart should be easily spanned by two hands placed just behind the shoulders. The Plummer Terrier is leggy. Shoulders and forelegs should be strong, well laid back and developed without excessive muscle tone. Forelegs should be set square and straight and not tied in. Feet should be well shaped, and dense. No resemblance of bend in front. The back and loins, are muscular, strong and well coupled, with well defined muscle development. Hindquarters should be lengthy and strong, with a well set on tail. Hind legs; second thigh should be strong and muscular. Hocks clean and flat, turning neither inwards nor outwards. The hind legs must not be too bent. Feet are well shaped and dense. The neck is strong, elegant, especially in the case of bitches, and well carried. The tail is carried high and is preferably docked (where allowed) and balanced to the size of the dog. Curled tails not encouraged. Its movement should be light, energetic, free, true and forcible and cover the ground. Hocks should be flexed under the body with straight powerful leverage.

Head: the ears fold over like most terriers, and are dropped, rounded, and neatly pinned to head. Prick or rose ears are not encouraged. The eyes are dark, prominent and oval, set widely apart. The muzzle is strong, the lips close with no excessive looseness. Teeth strong and even with full scissor bite. The head is medium sized, full of quality with strong bones and powerful cheek and jaw muscles. Slight Bull Terrier blood characteristics are encouraged as is a well defined stop.

Height at Withers: this working terrier stands between 29 cm (11.5 inches) and 35.5 cm (14 inches) at the withers.

Weight: weighs on average between 5.5 kg (12 pounds) and 7.5 kg (16.5 pounds).

Coat: the Plummer Terrier is a very attractive smooth-coated dog. The coat is short, close and without guard hairs, yet with the ability to withstand weather. Loose or broken coats not acceptable.

Colors: the breed has a fiery red and white coat and head, a broad white collar at the neckline, or a full cape from head to tail are encouraged. Underside of the belly and chest, front and rear legs should be white although flecking is acceptable. Head either solid colour, or with stripe or badger marked. Red self-colored terriers, tri-colored, brindle black or black and white terriers should not be encouraged. The nose and eyes are typically black.

Plummer Terrier Temperament

Character: a Plummer Terrier should be strong, hardy, active and adaptable, with terrier characteristics and as much substance as possible. They should be equally at home in the house as in the kennel, be highly intelligent, courageous and tenacious. Affectionate, loyal and trustworthy with family and friends. Yet should present a bright, alert, appearance without displaying any excessive aggression or nervousness.

Social Build:

Plummer Terrier Socially




Usability: Plummer Terriers are primarily created to work rats and rabbits and can be good family dogs on the side, they need an active job.

Plummer Terrier Quotes / Trivia

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[ 2014-04-07 ] :: jill lineham
Can you tell me what the life expectancy is please? My boy is seven & half, a rescue dog & never been worked but Im sure would have loved the life
[ 2012-10-17 ] :: chris beer
who breeds plummers in the west of england i live in somerset what a super little dog

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